Sunday, 29 March 2009

Popped to the gym for a quick relaxation session, however it was all happedning there - there were 2 men in the steam room, one small wiry one giving an enormous man a massage. Felt that 3 was a crowd so went to the sauna instead. Now watching my favourite programme, the Secret Millionaire. it might have been on for weeks, as I haven't been watching tv since beginning of Feb, however, the draw of my top watch is too much to resist. Also notice that the apprentice has restarted, so might have to make an exception for that in the name of studies of psychology of the ignorant.

Today I helped rob with shifting the pebbles from the front drive to the back garden, he has done so well as yesterday he got the concrete base down for the new shed. I have not been much use, apart from taking the girls out to give him space. Last night I went to Winchester to listen to Father Lawrence Freeman, who is a monk who is in charge of the worldwide community for christian meditation. He was great, very calm and slow and we did a 20 min meditation as part of the evening. It was not a new concept, as we started meditating after the visit to Washington DC in 2003, as a leadership team but you do get a bit lazy and forgetful without a group of like minded people to spur you on, don't you? I bought a book about meditating with children, and did 5 mins with H and 3 mins with A tonight before bed time. I read in the book that statistical, scientific studies show that regular meditation has physiological effects in terms of lowering blood pressure, breathing rate and heart beat, and many pychological benefits including less depression, more ability to cope, better sleep, feeling of better well being etc etc. I then did 15 mins on my own, in my new Godly play room - the spare room, which I have tidied up a bit and made some space so I can fit a sprinkling of children in for godly play, and as a quiet room for me and the rest of my family. I was really pleased how quickly the time went, and I could have kept going but H called out as she was scared. Looking forward to tomorrow! Father L suggests 20 mins twice a day, and all you do is sit up straight, close your eyes, and say a word inside over and over again, like Jesus (assuming you are a Christian). However, a while ago at housegroup I did a talk and meditation, and suggested that any word would do - for example, tomato. More recently, one of our number announced that he had been doing it, and using the word tomato as his mantra ever since.

I bought a newspaper yesterday, and read that girls with absent fathers (ie split up families, not thoes working away) start their periods way earlier than intact families, and the more involved the father in the girl's upbringing, the later she starts puberty. HOW AMAZING IS THAT??? How mysterious and interwoven are our physical and emotional and spiritual health.

OK Get this. I have been out 3 times now for a run with Sarah G, who is a very good and keen runner. Yesterday I could have sworn we were going way over 5k, and last week I thought the same. I kept asking, and she, with the pedometer, would tell me - we'e done 3.5 when I am thinking we might have done it. It was windy yesterday, but flat, so when we got back and had been out for nearly an hour I was a bit suspicious and so mapped the route on gmap. The LIAR had been making it up, and I had actually done 7.5k!!! Still, I feel good about doing 5k next Saturday, and have got Sarah signing up to do my second tri with me as penance. She says she was trying to talk me into doing the 10k this Saturday ie she was going to tell me when we got there, and convince me I could do it.

So I have been online looking for a suitable tri for us to do. Here's my option: 4k swim in a lake, 180k cycle, and a marathon run. You get 9.5 hours, and if you haven't finished they pick you up and take you to the finish line - personally I would have thought the local cardiac unit a better option. I would need a week to do that. And I don't want to do a swim in a lake or sea one - there is a suitable one but it involves swimming in the Beaulieu river, which I just don't fancy.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Make a note to buy the Echo THIS Friday, when I will absolutely be in it, in our beautiful new garden. It really looks awesome. R spent the weekend pinching paving slabs from people's drives and laying them in the corner as a shed base, only for the shed men from Wolverhampton to say it was not level enough, so this weekend he is concreting it. Hence the new shed in a heap in the middle of the grass, and all the contents which will go in it getting rusty outside or in the lounge looking savage. So this am as I left for work and it was spitting with rain, I did a world's strongest man style event, lugging bags of cement from the bag on the end of the drive to the porch, before cycling to work on my racer. On Tuesday I cycled to and from Swaythling and Netley on the yellow and purple machine, and apart from a sore neck I am doing ok. I look stupid but I can get my feet in the toe clips, and out again quickly enough, which is the important bit.

We had a look at the new thing on Google where you can see your road at street level, and there's a blue Merc parked on our drive!! We think it must be the garden designer's but its an unusual thing to happen to us. It's weird how the photos have immortalized a second in the life of every street - there was a chap changing the bin bag in the bin at our bus stop. I hear people got in a paddy because it showed them commiting burglary and picking their noses - but doesn't that add to the fun of it!

I have been busy at work with teaching children how to cross the road and other important features of life for 5 and 6 year olds. We counted over 100 today! Also learning to count in french, only up to 12. I also led singing practice which was fun, as we sang the Spring Chicken and the Little Seed and another song about getting bugs in your pants. A great sentence was written today in my class - 'Worms flop around all the time'. It had a full stop, finger spaces, was spelt correctly and was only lacking a capital letter.

For our date night last night I was going to take King Pin R to the new bowling complex in Eastleigh, but there was an hour's wait so we went to M and S for a coffee instead. Also an enormous piece of coffee cake. On Tuesday night I went to IKEA for the first time, and it was a very cheap night out - 74p for a hot chocolate. So, next date night that is where we are headed. Time is running out for running before the first event I am entering, however I can run for over 30 minutes now, and can do 5km outdoors ok, so with a bit of competition I should be able to put the 2 together to hit 30 mins, if not too many hills. I have had some fantastic runs in woods near our house, in the sunshine, and after 10 minutes I really love running, even if I am overtaken by dog walkers. So this weekend is a big warm up, my last chance to make any real improvement on my time. Its that or take a scooter with me to hide in the bushes and jump on.

Working 3 days a week seems to be leaving me statistically more tired than 2.5 days did! And thats with my extra 0.5 being time without the children for planning etc. I have been trying to cook tasty and nutritious family meals as well, which is probably where I go wrong, especially as no one is ever grateful and I could just as well get takeaways. Before I get to work at 8am I have motivated H to get out of bed, put laundry on, emptied dishwasher and made breakfast. I have hit on getting the girls to make their own lunches, which is going well at the mo, but might be the novelty factor. I think I need to lower my standards of cooking and cleaning for 3 days. Or get an au pair. This weekend I have an exciting night out with a monk in Winchester. I saw my nun this week and told her, she might know him from her days in London where she worked with some monks. I hope she is not worried that I will forget all about her and get all monkey!

Monday, 16 March 2009

Make a note in your diary NOW to buy the Echo this Friday, as I am, once again, starring in a photo of me in my old garden. I looked dreadful that morning, but please buy anyway and write letters saying how keenly you are following my garden progress. Might be my big break into journalism, and last night I was awoken from a dream that I was writing a piece for the Daily Mail on child protection. Children at risk were likely to eat ham sandwiches for tea and be found on top of the piano. Sounds more like Mozart in the making than a child on the CP register.

I have been trying to get a better deal on my car insurance, but inadvertently typed in the wrong registration number, and got a quote for a BMW. Anyway, on the website you type in the first few letters of your occupation and it comes up with possibilities. I typed in tea and as well as teacher, it came up with tea blender and tea taster. What a great job that would be! Sitting around drinking different types of tea all day. It reminds me of the jigcaal thing we did at secondary school where you filled in a form and a computer told you what your ideal vocation was. These were the days when things were printed on green paper with perforations down the side, so there was room for improvement in the systems. Libby was down as a prison warden, which I think she would be good at. I got social worker and teacher, but also wigmaker and taxidermist. I am a vegetarian for heavens sake! And was then! Speaking of which, the garden book suggested I put dried blood in the hole in the ground before I planted my fruit trees. But that would make the fruit carnivorous, and as a vegetarian I don't feel comfortable feeding my plants dried blood. How do you dry blood? In the oven? Out in the sun? Is sundried blood better than factory produced? Decided that the trees could lump it and eat worms if they were that hungry. Busy weekend in the garden, with lots of help from our housegroup, demolishing a shed and taking apart another, we found 2 big frogs living in some rotting wood behind them. Fabulous weather for being out in the garden, our first barbecue to feed the hungry helpers on Saturday. The Crandons enjoyed it so much they came back for fishfinger sandwich lunch on Sunday. They had breakfast and lunch on Saturday in the Hinkler pub, clearly supporting the local businesses of Thornhill with great determination. I don't think I can face breakfast in a pub yet. Do they do muesli? I have grown rather partial to a bowl at breakfast time.

Took a delivery of pebbles and bark today, as you do, and also gave away some garden chairs to a student who is clearly madder than us, as he tied them to his pushbike and cycled off. Which almost beats Rob G, who turned up on Saturday for the shed attack session, on his bike, with his sledge hammer in a rucsac on his back. He makes Mad Max look like Where's Wally!

I had a lovely run today in the woods, don't know if it was 5k but it was 30 minutes and lots of ups and downs and the sun shining. Yesterday I did an hour of swimming lessons, learning front crawl, so it was great to get in lots of technique. I can do a length in 30 seconds, but not sure I can sustain that for more than 1 length, and I need to do 16!

If you want to do some gardening this weekend you are very welcome to get in touch. Get in there quick before I join the BBC as their anchor on Gardener's Question time and Gardener's World. I am delighted to say that 'Kitchen Garden' magazine has joined the bathroom reading dinghy sailing magazines. It's November's edition, and actually the feature '62 must do things in November' put me off a bit. Surely there is nothing you MUST do in the garden in November? Except avoid it as its cold? Look out of hte window at it?

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Here I sit, a triathlete. Tonight, I accomplished:

20km bike ride
5km run
400m flop through the water
shower without fainting
drive home
ate a banana

this is the first time I have done the full distance of all 3 disciplines all at once, if in the wroing order, and I did it in 1hr 30mins. Bearing in mind that this was all indoors, without having to run in the wind or up hills, or have to find my bike while dripping through a car park, this bodes well for my getting a time around 1hr 45 for the real thing. Sorry about spelling but on the lap top and can't use the keys for shaking. Have to cycle to work tomorrow, but its mostly down hill.

Today I visited Sialou in her new flat in St Marys. I can not fathom why anyone would rather live in St Marys than Sholing, but it is saving her £15 a week in bus fares so maybe that makes sense. Its so rough! In the hour I was there I saw 3 different police officers and cars and its so noisy! When we lived in Sheffield we lived on the equivalent road to it, and got used to the noise, the 'sauna' a few doors down and the police cordons at the newsagents across the road where people were stabbed. never went in that one, we went in the one at the bottom of Chippinghouse road, if you know it. Its just normal isn't it, when its every day? But then when you get to live in the countryside for a few years, its shocking to go back to the inner city. One thing I liked about Sheffield ( there are very few) was the Catholic church called 'The Mother of God' - can he come out to play tonight? I am interested, as you know, in church names, and would never dare enter the 'Strict and Particular' Baptist church of Hedge end. I also like the one in Bitterne, called 'CHRIST THE KING and St Colman' - poor little St Colman, a bit of an add on, bit part - the support band that no one came to see.

I am shortly to appear in the Echo - not sure of the exact date but its coming up soon, a big pic of me holding a gardening book in my before garden. I had a chat with the man from the pallet company who is delivering my ton of play bark and shingle - he wanted to check that I knew what I had ordered. Had to lie and say yes, but I have not a clue what a ton of shingle looks like. Might be half a beach turning up and we only have the temporary use of Libby's builder's wheelbarrow that they haven't come back for yet. All is going ahead for the demolition of the wall and shed on Saturday and Sunday, along with the guy comig to dig up the shrubs from freecycle, and R is re rigging one of his boats ready for the season. it seems to all be starting at Easter, and we are on bar duty over the Easter weekend, so hoping for sunshine and I can perfect my cocktail recipes for the sailors.

Last week we talked at housegroup about what to do instead of watching TV. It was a great exercise in itself, although as I watched very little anyway, I personally am not going to be able to fit in much in the extra hour a week I have. But maybe if I did watch TV a lot I would not be a triathlete in training or a garden renovator? I have to say that training and doing the garden project at the same time is pretty stupid, but can only blame myself! I am also scheduled to start learning to use my sewing machine but the Powerpoint course has been cancelled so that gives me a valuable few hours every week to plant seeds.

Do you feel tired reading this? Must go to bed as got to be at work at 8 tomorrow to greet my darling angels with falling out teeth. One girl lost a tooth when we were pretending to be frogs. Oops.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Well, the next blood test was not so good, with 23 people in the queue ahead and only 2 flea bottom ists on duty, but she said Happy Birthday, and I bought lunch, ate lunch and read a paper while I was waiting for the test. My birthday weekend was great, on the Thursday my house group suprised me with a Scarbble tournament, which Paul won with 'zag' on a triple word score. Beginner's luck. Bah. I'll get him next time. Then after work on the Friday the GGG and H and A had done a secret birthday tea for me, then R took me out to the Osborne View for dinner, and we bumped into a colleague of his who I had wanted to meet to talk to about sports wear. For my birthday I was given NO slippers ( but some money so off to buy them later) but a holiday in a railway carriage. How good is that! It's one of my holiday ambitions, so today I found one and booked it. The only downside is the location, in some sidings in Eastleigh. no, Yorkshire, in the countryside. We booked the last week they had which was in August, and it was a ridiculously cheap price for a week anywhere in August. Hooray!

Also today the garden designer came round with final designs so now its up to me to get smashing, digging etc. I need green wine bottles and brown beer bottles so if you are local and can start collecting please let me know when you have a box full and I will collect. Full would be good, but empty will do. Also old bike wheels if you have any spare? Like taking coals to Newcastle I am sure, but worth asking. As she was leaving, I mentioned I hadn't won anything lately, and then an hour later, a DVD Encyclopedia Britannica was on the door mat, which I had won in a magazine competition. I spoke to Claire Cressey today, she has won a designer bin worth £150. That is a good win. Made my DVD look a bit crummy.

Back to last weekend. We went to Moors Valley, along with the delightful James Taylor, House family and the Whitmore family. I got to see the Wildlife photographer of the year winning pics, which are always awesome. They are never of robin in your garden, the caption always reads like this:

After several months bivouacing in the Himalyas with only my camera and a yeti for company, I managed to get this long range shot of a dancing reef fish off the Gold Coast with my Cannon DGFFEEDD 180 3 B lens with the shutter speed set to 0.111 blinks per minute.

Did you? Well good for you! and well done for winning. On our return we had to go swimming despite all being shattered, as Paul and Ang were busy doing our house up for the cocktail party they had planned for me. A select group of friends dressed up for the event and I was plyed with drinks with the colour of toilet duck and a taste to match. After several of these increasingly complicated concoctions we played a silly men vs women game that a friend had bought me and it went down very well. so, I was very appreciative of the efforts of my friends to be nice to me. Especially Emma, who knocked back the cocktails despite being very pregnant. That's true commitment!

I have managed 2 weeks in a row teaching in Year 1, and still love it, despite being a bit ratty this week, frustrated with the 40 minute PE slot which gives us almost no time to do anything, as putting the mats and benches out takes 30 minutes, and changing takes 5 each side. They wrote some super sentences and I feel like we are getting the measure of each other! H and A had their parents' evenings this week, nice to be on the other side, H has done some really good writing and A is a brainbox at maths, which we know to our pain as she beats us on mental arithmetic and can do two step operations. So nothing we didn't know, but all good and the school are very good at teaching exactly what the child needs and monitoring their progress. Which once again encouraged us that sending your children to an OUTSTANDING school, even in Thornhill, is a fab thing to do!!! Oh, did I mention that Kanes Hill is OUTSTANDING? That's better than good! Shame about the secondary school eh? Known as Woodlands school for hooligans, it has to take all the children who get excluded from everywhere else. Hmmm.

Today is less than a month to my first race and I went for my first training run with my running guru, Sarah Gale. I managed to keep running the 5k track round the common, but the first third I thought I was going to give up, and the last 500m were terrible, in the middle I had a good bit where I was able to keep going and breathing. We did it in 33 minutes, which is not great as I need to be under 30, but for a first proper run with a runner, it was ok. Sarah barely broke a sweat and was more speed walking than running, but I did it! Tomorrow and next Sunday I have swimming lessons planned, for £5 at the university, I am taking along someone I met at the swimming pool who wants to learn to front crawl too. Will report back, but really I need to spend this week on running improvement. Yesterday I meant to do a slight detour to make my cycle to school a bit longer to act as a training ride (say 4 miles instead of 2) but miscalculated the bridge over the motorway and cycled via Fair Oak to Hedge End. Did it in 35 minutes and the fact that I had to get to work in time was a good incentive to keep pedalling. By the time the children arrived I looked fairly normal, and its lovely out there, as soon as you cross the motorway its all farms and peaceful.

Off out on my bike now to M and S. It's the most ethical shop on earth and so by cycling there to buy my slippers I feel I am adding to the good of the earth.